Now that the warm weather is here, our thoughts turn to outdoor activities. But before we can really enjoy the great outdoors, most of us do a little sprucing up of the inside of our homes. Spring cleaning and purging can make for a much more enjoyable summer, especially for those who are taking “staycations” instead of getting away.
The key to an effective spring cleaning is to keep it simple and focus on feelings. Yep—you heard that right—on feelings. How does your environment actually make you feel? Too often we don’t realize that certain things in our environment are causing us stress: those nagging, unfinished tasks (NUTS), the clutter, the ugly old items that need to go, and even some lingering resentments that pollute the air.
If you’re a particularly visually oriented person (I am), what is in your environment can impact your mood more than you may realize? We get used to what’s around and may cease to even realize how it may be irritating us.
So let’s get started!
First step: Take a good look around.
On a day when you don’t have to run out the door, take a few minutes to survey your environment. Is it pleasing or do you want to run away from it? How do you feel about the big things like furnishings, wall colors, and flooring? How about the smaller decorations? Is there clutter? Do you have organized piles or a haphazard mess?
Second step: Where did it come from?
Did it start out pleasing but slowly over time you started collecting stuff? Did you recently move or acquire things from family members or from your office? Did you move into your spouse’s home when you got married and never really got to set things up the way you preferred? That’s always a challenge for both the person moving in and the person originally there.
Third step: What needs to change?
Do you need to just take the time to clean things up or does the room or home need a complete overhaul?
Whether you just need a good spring purge or you need a complete renovation, the following steps apply.
Tame the Clutter
There’s a saying that clutter is just postponed decisions. Quite true. But let’s face it, with busy lives sometimes we simply don’t have the time to think and create a place for every new thing that comes into our homes. Creating some general categories can be very helpful.
Decide how much time you can devote to this step. Can you set aside an afternoon, a whole weekend, or maybe just an hour or two a week? Dedicating time is key. If it’s only an hour, schedule it, set a timer, and allow no interruptions.
Start sorting small sections at a time: the pile on your desk, the corner of the playroom, one kitchen cabinet, etc. Take three boxes or bins and label them: Trash, Give Away, Keep. You may need a fourth box labeled Relocate for items that just need to be put in their rightful places elsewhere.
This may be the most challenging step and, if so, I strongly encourage you to do one of two things…and maybe both. Read a good book on organizing. My favorite is this one by Julie Morgenstern- organizing guru extraordinaire: Organizing from the Inside Out.
Julie lays out simple steps based on logical principles…and even gets into a bit of the psychology of why you’re having trouble in the first place. By getting to the root of the problem, you can plan on not just getting cleaned up for a week or two but can plan long term success and freedom. Remember, time wasted looking for stuff, is just that—time wasted. Time invested organizing is truly that—an investment.
Consider hiring a professional organizer. I’ve done it in the past and it was money well spent. But beware—find someone who will take the time to listen and help you plan a system that works for you with your unique personality and challenges. Anyone can give you a general system…but someone who can listen will give you a system which actually works for you long term.
If you can’t afford to hire someone, perhaps a friend with great organizing skills can help. A fresh pair of eyes can be invaluable as they can see what’s become background “noise” for you.
Color Your World
Ok, I admit it, color affects me big time! We all have our favorite colors and most of us have colors we just don’t like. For me, it’s brown. It makes me sad and kills my motivation. Even if you can’t paint or make major renovations, adding accents of your favorite color in the rooms in which you spend the most time can go a long way to boosting your mood. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Be creative.
Create a Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point—something pleasing to the eye that draws your attention. It could be a fireplace, a window, or even something as simple as a painting or statue. Create your focal point and make it beautiful for you. Even at your office, having a pleasing focal point can help make your day a little brighter.
Are there resentments hanging in the air? Sometimes we don’t realize how much our emotions, and those of others, can impact the mood of a room. Whether it’s at home or in the office, take stock of which kinds of relationships are affecting your environment. Next, make a plan to deal with them. Perhaps an honest conversation, a decision to forgive and refocus away from a resentment, or a commitment to therapy or coaching to help resolve long standing conflicts and move ahead with better communication is what’s needed. All the artwork in the world won’t make an ugly, resentment filled environment pretty.
Essential oils can help to uplift your environment and promote attention and focus. More than just nice scents, the science behind essential oils demonstrates their ability to positively affect mood, increase focus, tame anxiety, promote restful sleep, and purify the air of contaminants—both physical and emotional. For just pennies at a time, essential oils can be the most economic and impactful. Oils are a great first step in creating a more pleasing and relaxing environment…even as you work on all the previous steps. Contact us to learn more.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.